Liverpool woman wins prestigious national award

Michelle Cox with Royal College of Nursing Fellowship Award at the event in Newport Wales on June 2 (Image: Michelle Cox)
-Credit: (Image: Michelle Cox)


A Liverpool woman won a prestigious national award for years of public service.

Michelle Cox worked in the NHS for 30 years, 26 of them as a registered nurse. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) annually celebrates the very best in nursing and presented Michelle, along with six others, with a RCN Fellowship Award.

As well as awarding Michelle a Fellowship, the RCN awarded Honorary Fellowships and Awards of Merit to those who have given an outstanding contribution to nursing. There were also honours for the Learning Representative, Safety Representative and Steward of the Year.

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Michelle said: "I’m proud to accept the Fellowship, I’m truly honoured. It's only motivated me further and confirmed the work I’m doing is making a difference.

"I’ll continue to use my voice and influence to champion and support those who have no voice in the workplace".

The awards took place in Newport, Wales during the RCN’s annual meeting of Congress on June 2. The Congress gives an opportunity to network with peers, hear exceptional keynote speakers and take part in hot-topic debates about issues affecting the nursing workforce.

Michelle Cox (L) before she received her award at the event in Newport, Wales on June 2 with Royal College of Nursing president Sheila Sobrany (Image: Michelle Cox)
Michelle Cox (L) before she received her award at the event in Newport, Wales on June 2 with Royal College of Nursing president Sheila Sobrany (Image: Michelle Cox) -Credit:Michelle Cox

Now retired, Michelle was a senior Black nurse who made the decision to blow the whistle on poor practice in her service across the North of England; a grievance including discrimination by her manager. Dissatisfied with the way her complaints of racism were handled, and certain she had been mistreated for whistleblowing, Michelle took her employer to an employment tribunal and won in 2023.

Regional Director of RCN North West, Estephanie Dunn, said: “Michelle certainly brought racism issues in the NHS to the forefront and has since used her voice and platform to highlight and challenge these issues in an open forum. We see day in day out injustices due to racism and attacks on other protected characteristics.

"Michelle had courage to speak up and challenge, something very difficult to do and to prove. A true inspiration, and it’s her strength, campaigning and courage that won her this accolade.

“I'm delighted to see Michelle honoured in this way. Congratulations on behalf of the whole RCN North West team and our members. It’s very much deserved".

Michelle Cox with Royal College of Nursing Fellowship Award at the event in Newport Wales on June 2 (Image: Michelle Cox)
Michelle Cox with Royal College of Nursing Fellowship Award at the event in Newport Wales on June 2 (Image: Michelle Cox) -Credit:Michelle Cox

Michelle speaks and campaigns on behalf of global majority workers. Working with the RCN Foundation Michelle launched an anti-racism award, determined to create a positive legacy from the devastating impact the legal battle had on her.

In October 2023, to mark Black History Month, the RCN Foundation announced its creation; the annual Michelle Cox RCN Foundation Anti-Racism Award, to recognise and celebrate efforts to combat racism within healthcare through funding a nurse or midwife-led project. University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust became the first recipient of Michelle’s award.

Michelle said: "By working with the Foundation, I believe there’s a real opportunity to expose great practice and share these models. There are very few awards specifically for anti-racism, and unfortunately this work is often uncelebrated.

"There are many NHS staff, nurses and midwives, doing incredible work on anti-racism, but it's often done in silos and struggles to be sustainable or replicated beyond their current team. I'm thrilled the project currently being undertaken at UHCW will tackle anti-racism, but also seeks to improve staff well-being, engagement, and retention, as well as decreasing sickness rates related to racism”.

Following a competitive rigorous process, this year's inaugural Award was given to Ayisatu Jarrett, lead of the Anti-Racism Shared Decision-Making Council from UHCW NHS Trust. Ayisatu's project will develop five educational videos for UHCW’s Anti-Racism Toolkit e-learning module.

The videos seek to empower staff to tackle uncomfortable conversations around racism, help raise awareness, knowledge and confidence for UHCW staff in using the Anti-Racism Toolkit to support them to create an anti-racist and inclusive workplace.

Deepa Korea, RCN Foundation Director said: “Michelle’s commitment to promoting inclusivity stands as a testament to the importance of addressing discrimination. Her unwavering commitment to change echoes through this award, offering hope and inspiration to those who oppose racism and promote racial equality within nursing and midwifery, evident with the number of applications the award received.

"We’re proud to be working alongside Michelle and UHCW and have confidence the outputs of their project will evoke long-lasting and positive change, not just at UHCW but across the healthcare sector".

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